About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married, with spectacular stepdaughter, crazy dog, and cat living in the Capital District of New York State.

Gays, guns, and God

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Photo credit: Angelo Kavouriadis

I have to first remind myself that this letter was issued in 1986 so the language sounds strange to my ears. “Homosexual persons” seems to carry a ring to it, one that indicates a condition that I would best avoid both for my own behavior, and also for not associating with such persons. Yet the letter from St. John Paul II is very clear in that first sentence of item number ten, so I will repeat it:

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

We are all aware that LGBT people were the “object of violent malice” on Sunday, June 12, 2016. This must be roundly condemned, not simply because it was violent and sinful against all human persons, but because these people were singled out for being LGBT in the first place.

Sunday’s acts of violence and hatred are entangled with some of the most scorching hot buttons in our US cultural millieu – that old trio of “gays, guns, and God.”

Let me break this down into Continue reading

This, not that

Burnout.Quote.TwitterIf you are a regular reader, you know that I am a person of faith, blogging about the intersection of faith, spirituality, and everyday life. You also know that I am a Roman Catholic who also works for the Catholic church both in her day job, and as a freelance writer, and more. While church is alive and vibrant for me and many others, for some church means boring, routine, rigid, rejection and more – even when the call to something greater than oneself exists.

In 1990 I returned to the Church after an 18 year very conscious absence!  When I left church I was DONE and overdone with formal religious practice. To say that my return was reluctant would be understatement. All those years that I was away I frequently felt the pull of church, but I felt the planting of being fine with where I was as a non-belonging member of anything even more strongly. My desire for sacredness and spirituality never left me in those years, but I did not want to be part of any formal practice.

RAp3eT0Many seekers or would be seekers think – I want this, not that – meaning, sacred and spiritual are indeed part of your landscape. Maybe your desire for such things helps to see and understand the world, but there is no context for such things in your life. While I have many arguments about why faith in community is vitally important, I also know that words telling me that would have never sent me back to church. In fact, such words would have had me fleeing at high speeds. Buh-bye! What’s a seeker to do?

DSS.489x750In my day there were few books or resources – maybe zero resources – to help direct anyone not only to spirituality, but to an exploration of spiritual practices. That’s why I was thrilled when Meredith Gould told me about her current writing project, Desperately Seeking Spirituality.(Full disclosure, she’s my dear friend, we are mishpocha. And yes, I offered an editorial review of the book found inside of its cover.)

Next week I will share my review of this book on the blog, along with an interview with Meredith. I hope you will check out my posts, because I really would like to see this book widely read. Not unlike The Nones are Alright by Kaya Oakes, these are important volumes for our times, for the churched, the unchurched, the seekers, searchers, and others. (See my review of that book here.)

Desperately Seeking Spirituality is an important book that I would like to tell you more about, and Meredith is someone I’m pretty sure you will want to get to know.  See you on Monday!

 

Poems, pilgrimage, perspective

Worlds End .JPGLast Saturday, after walking past a sign with a vaguely dystopian message, my Camino Santiago partner and friend, Sue and I entered the forest. The first part of our journey was a bit more arduous than either of us had imagined.  It grew clear to me that the sign was more descriptive than vague! Where were we and what had we gotten ourselves into in the name of camino preparation, or as we cool kids of the internet like to say, #caminoprep.

The hike offered great perspective on many things, but a few stand out in stark detail. One being that it seemed like the world’s end due to the steep, sharp, gravity defying trails that we traversed, clad as we were in our camino gear, complete with heavy packs on our back. My imagination, which runs like a super high definition camera when pondering possible fates, usually terrifying ones, was on overdrive as I imagined my short, stout body tipping backwards and rolling down the rocky trail to an early end. Obviously I am alive, but on Saturday I was not sure I would remain so!

Despite choosing a #caminoprep run that was way beyond our technical hiking skill, Sue and I ended up loving so much of what we saw at Worlds End State Park. Continue reading

Enough is enough – Part 3

OK, here we are for part 3 of this series founded in the Feast of Corpus Christi. We’ve talked about Eucharist, who deserves to be fed, and how real food matters in part 1 and part 2. Today is the final installment, because enough really is enough. Thank you for reading!

enough-550x250Let us take a look at some of where our tax dollars are going to in the shadow of not only this church feast, but also in the shadow of Memorial Day, when we honor our war dead. I am not against the military per se, and I have war veterans in my immediate family including my WWII fighting father, and my recently retired from the Army nephew. He served in Kosovo during horrible times, and did 4 tours in Iraq. However, we spend a lot of money on the machines of war, so that we might have peace. And bread.

fig-3-19450809-urakamiIn another shadow, that of Hiroshima, President Obama (hey I voted for the guy so let’s just get that out there, I voted for him twice) we see a man torn between his anti-nuclear promises and passions and a president who has “put us on course” to spend over a trillion dollars to updgrade the nuclear arsenal over the next three decades. We seem to have enough for that!

I know I am getting lecture-y sounding, I’m sorry, but I keep seeing anxious, depressed, hungry people with scruffy and also hungry children and it kind of gets me down, OK? It is hard for me to understand that there is “not enough.” More often this cry of not enough comes from the other side of the political aisle, and so often I find that it is a kind of pandering that never puts the greater common good first. How have we lost sight of Continue reading

Enough is enough – Part 2

Thanks for coming back. Just in case you are not returning, this post began yesterday  with Enough is enough – Part One. You can check that out here if you missed it, and continue here. I’m on a bit of ramble about Sunday’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ and what that means in real life today. At least from my perspective.

hunger-facts-slider-2-1Each day as I sit at my desk I answer the phone and the door, often greeting people in the rectory of a suburban parish who come to us because they do not have enough food. The vast majority of the people who come for help are white, largely the working (if they are lucky) poor. People who have fallen through the cracks for one reason or another. I’m guessing most of them never saw college as an option, but some may have. I don’t know. The jobs they have are usually fast food or retail, jobs that pay very poorly and that offer few benefits.

Now it is nice to sit in the comfort of our own homes and tsk task that “those people” should not want cable television, internet service, or an iPhone. Their kids should not get the nice athletic shoes our kids get nor the clothes. And they certainly shouldn’t smoke or have a decent car! After all, if they worked harder (really???) and did without, they could Continue reading

Enough is enough – Part 1

Philco-fridge-GailsmileThe little girl watched as scraps of leftovers were wrapped up in “tin foil,” placed carefully in the old refrigerator. It the kind where one big, old, heavy door opened to reveal a small inner freezer that was in seemingly constant need of defrosting. If you are younger than maybe 40, you may have no idea what this is – well, what this was. If you are under 30, I’m pretty certain you do not have a living recollection of it, at least most of you won’t.  Anyway, I digress. It was simply made very clear that nothing was to go to waste because there might not be enough for later or tomorrow.

Reynolds55The little girl was me, and the wrapper-upper of food was my mom. The old fridge was in the kitchen of our apartment, and “tin foil” was what we called aluminum foil. My mother was born in 1914 and raised in a very poor family in New York City. By time the Depression rolled around in 1929, my then 15 year old mother was already out of school for two years, quitting to go to work to help the impoverished family. Worries about “enough” were very real. I did not grow up in poverty, nor did I grow up in luxury. Thus we were very careful about not throwing out that which might be of use. The struggle was real – there might not be enough!

This has left its imprint upon me in ways that I am only beginning to understand now that I am headed to age Continue reading

Taste and See – a book review

As the breeze blew the scent enveloped me like a cloud, surrounding me with its sweetness – lilacs! It was a cool but clear early evening in May and I was out walking. The scent was intoxicating and for a moment I stopped and breathed it in deeply. I was deep in that moment and I was also full of the memory of the lilacs of my childhood. Ahhhhh… So beautiful. A short while later, traversing a path in the woods as I made my way home, the sun appeared – a golden orb like a ball stuck upon the upper branches of the trees. In reality, it was on its way down, soon to be followed by the shimmering white disc of the moon rising on the other side of the sky. As evening walks went, this one was pretty spectacular, and was truly a feast for the senses.

407173_LARGEIn her latest book, Taste and See, Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses (Loyola Press), author Ginny Kubitz Moyer dives deeply into the sensual realm of Catholicisma as lived through our senses. Yes, some may think we are a pretty uptight crowd – and with good reason! But in our hearts, if we pay attention, the Catholic faith invites us to luxuriate in the world around us with each one of our senses.

As a writer with a deep Ignatian sensibility, Continue reading